There’s something to be said about the consistency of Opposition “social news network” Rappler — in both its ability to make itself the news and the quickness of its CEO, Nobel “Peace Prize” laureate Maria Ressa to pounce on its critics. The 2023 Report on Digital Media published by the Oxford University based Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism revealed that a dismal 47 percent of survey respondents rated Rappler trustworthy, the lowest amongst media brands included in the study. Consistent to that, 33 percent of respondents indicated that they don’t trust Rappler — the highest amongst the included media brands.
Reuters Institute made sure to include the caveat that the study covered only a limited number of media organisations and, as such, the outcome “should not be treated as a list of the most or least trusted brands as it is not exhaustive.” This and other clarifications called out by Reuters Institute on its report did not stop Ressa from launching into a monumental tantrum over what she considers a piece of content that could be “weaponised” against her lot…
We are not alone. This ‘study’ is like giving a loaded gun to autocratic governments trying to silence independent journalists not just in the Philippines but in countries like Brazil and India, where information operations and the lawfare are used to persecute, harass, and chill.”
It admits that social media has taken over distribution, but it is not critical of biases that are implicit in social media and how this has turned the world upside down…
In response, the Institute fielded a tweet in which they expressed how they were sorry that their work “has been abused and [that] Maria Ressa thinks our methodology risks undermining media in the Global South” but then points out a post where their director Rasmus Nielsen “explains that we stand by our work, how we reviewed it, and steps taken to mitigate any abuse”.
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Based on these reviews and the input we have received, we believe the survey methodology, questions, and research findings in the Digital News Report are robust. Our approach has undergone review by the University of Oxford Central University Research Ethics Committee, it serves as the basis for many peer-reviewed academic publications both by ourselves and many other researchers who rely on the data and cite our work, and is pursued under the University’s Code on academic integrity in research, which explicitly prohibits the omission of inconvenient data from analysis and publication. In line with the latter, we always seek to present data that we believe is robust in a consistent way across all the brands and countries covered.
Ressa, in an all-too-familiar effort to have the last word on the matter, rejected the apology over a 10-tweet thread where she called upon her cronies in the industry for backup…
It’s not enough to be sorry when your work is used to attack journalists in “inconvenient” countries. Journalism research has no integrity if it endangers journalists at risk. How did this “study” fare in South Africa @brankobrkic? Or in Brazil @camposmello?
After 4 years of behind-the-scenes feedback with no substantive changes and no acknowledgement of its harms, you have to ask – what is the purpose of this research? Of the bar graphs that are meant to get attention at our expense.
From last year: Excerpt from my email from 7/4/22: “f you don’t acknowledge your mistake, you will repeat it – and other more vulnerable news groups may not weather it as well as we can …”
From 7/4/22: ” … because the government and its propaganda machine are now using Oxford University against us (which is the reason RISJ must be beyond reproach, and in this case, you’re not – and you will continue to make the same mistake until you acknowledge it).”
From 7/4/22: “The graphics you have used through the years are misleading and lack proper labels. The note you quote, ‘should not be treated as a list of the most trusted brands’ is not enough when it’s not part of the chart itself.”
(The tirade continues from there over several more tweets.)
This is behaviour that is telling of the character of Ressa and the culture of the news organisation she heads. Whenever data does not fit the preferred narrative, it is “flawed” — or so goes the thinking of these people. Ressa herself has long demonstrated that she is, herself, not above using bogeymen that are products of her slanted imagination to prop up her storytelling. For example, she shrieks that “the government and its propaganda machine are now using Oxford University against us” and expects that to stand on its own as “evidence” of her victimhood.
The Reuters Institute was overly generous in what is essentially an unnecessary apology. It does a service to all that this fine institute is committed to stand by its data and the interpretation of this data in the informative manner with which it was delivered to the public.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.